|london volume 6 part 3 - 1973 september-october||work & days: a lifetime journal project|
Will you ever see this house? Outside between the front windows and the pavement (sidewalk) is a privet hedge that is like the privet hedge in front of every other house on Burghley Road except that it is as high as an elephant and a half. Mrs Holloway upstairs begins to fear that it will obscure her view of the neighbours' business. It bulges, both forward - when wet it soaks passersby - and backwards tapping on the window. At night it's my curtain, I have no other. Snoopers can watch me doing yoga in my underpants only by pushing their heads right into it. But they don't think to. Although the greenness and vitality of that hedge in this street of white net curtains must suggest that we behind it know some powerful secrets.
When we turn the lights off, the street lamps throw a light show through its top branches. When there's a wind the sway of it is beautiful.
Our front window, it's a bow designed so the afternoon sun is caught by one of its wings and concentrated on the two black cats asleep on the yellow rug folded on the brown chest, next to the potted maple tree [abutilon] that has single red flowers like bells .
Dostoevsky: If your prayer is sincere there will be every time you pray a new feeling containing an idea in it, an idea you did not know before, which will give you fresh courage; you will understand that prayer is education.
Luke is in a fat phase, he's plump as a buttered roll. Roy is also less thin than usual, he's exceptionally cheerful. Dear Mafalda is lonely in Yellow Springs Ohio with her two babies - 3 counting her husband.
In the med room, Angela and Elias doing reshastics, Luke came in: "My tummy's yawning." At breakfast, Elias: "Is your tummy still yawning?" "No, it's sleeping now."
We went to the apple tree - he'd woken in the afternoon and came crying bare-bummed up the drive - and looked for an apple for him. There was none, we shook the tree, nothing happened, we shook it again asking for an apple for Luke. One fell just behind my heel.
"I'm going to smash Jessie in pieces." Jessie's loving me up, playing horsie in the sun on the dining room blue carpet this morning. Singing with Mika in the dark. Hammering nails into the heavy creosoted beams, long nails and 'spacers' disks. Tod smirking when I used the sledge hammer, gurgling. Volleyball with the light ball, effective spikes, trying to learn to hustle. Cracking up laughing with Joyce, Christian, Werner. Omar looking beautiful in a dirty coverall. Putting up a lintel with Werner, leveling it by driving in a wedge, hanging about absorbing the esoteric knowledge of hammering and sawing. I'm not strong but I work at being brighter; Elias tries not to let me. Christina kindly reading my hand. The passive left head line, the deep straight active one on the right, with the beginning of a fork like hers.
Hammering, I feel Father's good son.
Jamuna catching me to set table, civilizing me. The woolly cap today. Creosoting. I smell of creosote, it doesn't deter fleas. Christian's direct kind smile. Touched his hand to turn it over and put a heap of blackberries in the palm. Tod this morning: "It was good to see you in the film last night." "I thought it was horrible." "?" "I hadn't realized I was so crooked." Truth came straight out. "You're not crooked where it matters." Easy to say, tonight I feel it's so. Luke's skin has color and his eyes shine, he eats muesli three times a day.
Baked apple and yogourt, the muesli cookies at lunch. I love these moments when I recall them, although they have no special shine when they're here. The soft cloudy sky this evening, above the forest.
It's true we're not equal. Men are stronger and women are smarter.
For organization of tree film: moments of tree - ie small sections of high concentration spaced with black or white or - leader.
Field ion microscope
Tara in the kitchen after meeting: "When you get to your stage of magnetism it doesn't matter, nobody sees it."
Lying on the floor. Huzur comes and gives me a hard efficient massage, cracks my spine in four places, pinches my arms, pulls my hair.
Go to bed and am woken by a strong hand on the back of my head, massaging and pinching, pulling my hair. (Woke clear and full of joy, instantaneously. Thought it was Huzur but lifted my face to find Elias smiling beside me. Two o'clock. We stood at the door of my little house looking at black sky and brilliant stars, "There's a planet," a red star. Then went in, nightgown, to sit in candlelight praying "Open me-e-e," chest opening sideways, "that I may see."
End of September
At the Khanka. Khanka: Sufi training camp - farm - university - encounter commune - family. Sufi: sort of secular religion, roots in Islamic mysticism, but now omnivorous - not really a religion in that 'god' isn't much mentioned. Luke and I are visiting - sleep in a little hut in the garden, sleeping bags next-to-next. Woken at six when it's still dark. Go into the big house for breakfast, a big circle on the blue carpet in the dining room - muesli, figs, yogourt. Luke is the first person at 'table' every morning, has the bowl between his knees and shovels in with a tablespoon.
At eight we're working. I'm at the barn site, sometimes laying concrete blocks, today measuring and cutting 9"x3" creosoted beams for the ceiling - a carpenter's square, a pencil behind my ear and a Black and Decker electric saw.
Today - measuring, fitting, nailing down floorboards - happiness. I feel so strong and neat balancing on crossbeams, bending, nailing, lifting.
Back home, Sunday
Should I say something about who I've been this summer not to write? I began the holidays at a Woman's Liberation Conference - four days - went from there to my Sufis for a two-week work camp - went from there to a month camping in Wales with a women and children's group - went from there to a lonely house, in the mountains, belonging to an absent mystic - went from there to a flat on the other side of London from which I went every day all day to a festival of underground film, two weeks of hard work, intellectual excitement, meeting filmmakers; from there back to the Sufis with Luke - and now school is about to begin and I'm here from all my trial lives about to put it together maybe.
I'm about to fly, about to take off, I'm on the edge, just on the frontier of doing what I'm born to do. About time. Oh about time.
Or I should say - the frontier of beginning to learn to do what I'm meant to do.
I'm so sorry and sad not to have mailed a letter to you for so long. Or did I? There are letters I can't find now. Did you get them?
Roy's well, going to carpentry night classes to learn more, loving and kind to Luke and to me, has bought another second hand VW van.
October, Thursday morning
Here's a letter virtually peeled off the surface of the one I got from you ten minutes ago. I am sorry it was May to October between letters, it's hard to believe.
Here the autumn's just beginning. The leaves won't fall until "ten days after the blackberries start molding" said one of the truck drivers who gave me a lift on the way up to Ireland. Sometimes the trees flashed a few yellow branches but mostly they're slowly turning brown.
You know M I'm developing a theory about these Black Princes of the Druids: we love them because we want to be them, what they represent to us, somebody who doesn't give himself away, who's loved rather than loving. High-risk person. Pursuing their own spirituality in private and bent for no one. The truth about most of these men (usually), these Heathcliffs, is repression, egotism, and a kind of barren emptiness. But even when I know that about somebody I can't help pursuing the illusion they represent. But I know that it's really for myself I want it. And so when you and I make fools of ourselves, laying ourselves on the line for these guys, we could think of it as a kind of loyalty to our own animus which is longing to come alive, the man in us that wants to grown strong, magnificent and ruthless beside the overgrown mothering woman that's there already.
And - but - the next step is to stop lending our animus to these men who are basically unworthy of them, and to love that 'man' in our woman, ie stop letting scarecrow paternalism make slaves of us.
To wit: if Father wants to go to Vienna and then to Israel let him do what he likes, there's nothing to say you have to do the same. Why can't he go to Vienna while you come here? I don't want Father here. I do want you. Luke wants you. Surely you can, since you're financing this trip, simply tell Father that die Sach es die, you're coming to London, he's going to Vienna and you'll meet him in Jerusalem? I'm so angry when I think of how you habitually simply let him think he has a right to decide for you.
[Apart from travel and reading notebooks, I hadn't written journal since July.]
[During the film festival had gone to stay in an artists' squat in Ladbroke Grove. Tony Nesbit was a friend of John Frick, who was a friend of John Rowley, who had passed on word that I was looking for somewhere to stay. While I was there I found the Silchester Road Public Baths and vowed myself to making a film about them. Tony let me stay at his house whenever I was working on it.]
On the other side of that practical bridge can this book go on? With the small story about Tony. (I'm so disgusted by the time before it, the preoccupation with - what? Who? How could I give so much obsessed time to that little spoiled boy, cruel and petty as he always was, from the beginning and for nothing. No this is no parenthesis, this is the end of this book.)
Shabby lion, shining eyes, the look he punched at Joe when we came to the door, his ferocity for two days when I tried to entice him, made him supper and tea, played the garden game with him ("Just an ordinary semi-detached") (I didn't see any key") and by Monday when I was eating supper upstairs he said why was I going so soon. John in the pub, saying how good my film was, Tony saying he'd wait 'til he saw it. When we got back, played blues, John Frick being red-eyed and silly, Tony backing out of it, but I caught him looking at me, I curled up hoping John would soon go home, Tony at last got up, said he was going to bed but that John mustn't stir, I laughed, but I made ostentatious organizing moves, went out and brushed my teeth. Tony disappeared into his room. John went home. I got into my sleeping bag with one of the curtains back and lovely light on the other, but I got in naked for the first time this weekend - and listened. Tony came in, after a while, said Have you got the right time, and I put my shoulder out bare to reach for the alarm clock. That's just an excuse, he said, I really wanted to kiss you goodnight. So I put my fingers on his jaw and kissed him goodnight. He leaned his forehead against me very gently and we rested head to shoulder, I listened to his breathing.
Sleep with me, he said. I will, if you turn off the light. He got up walked to his bedroom turned the light off and I came out of my sleeping bag and just got under his covers and after a minute so did he. Wanted to just sleep, let our bodies tune themselves to each other, but didn't know how to explain that. When he began to come I cried out Stop! so jerked far away and lonesome I was, but he didn't stop, and then held me as gently as he could, his heart pounding. I thought his face was wet.
Touch so shy and light.
His beautiful room, white, red chair, the brown and white blanket, the brick wall and chimneys outside. I woke wide awake at quarter to eight, looked at his lively profile, sleeping, got up to work.
Walked. The funeral cars turning into a tree-filled cul-de-sac of terrace houses. I photographed clothes on a line.
The curtain, dirty window, silver chair of Tony's house.
Part of the story. The Ram Dass Ashram's upstairs classes - we're there without names, no one addresses us personally even to correct us, we're there as subjects, our groping for the third eye, our privacy, our voice in the mantras, the breathing, the solitary strain of exercises that are too difficult, that silly song,
I am God / God is me.
Body slowing down to cold and space.
Downstairs the young boys, they're all slight with thin beards, and the girls in white, all buxom, with white scarves around their heads, cook in the small kitchen. Yogi tea.
"Truly smashing" - don't they know there's a yoga of language.
And at home there's Tony, blue milkman's apron on, working with fibreglass in the fibreglass-smelling studio. I've come to cook for him. We come and go. Our waking time, we sometimes, rarely, talk: about sculpture, ambition. He brings John Frick back to drink several cups of coffee in front of the gas fire. They watch television. I'm one of the boys. John has adult conversations with me.
But to get into silence with Tony. To get into bed. He goes to check the fire's off, cat fed. Maybe he shaves, scrubs the fibreglass off his hands, brushes his teeth.
Lined brown face, eyes a little bloodshot (fibreglass?) but luminous, light green. Nose broad and smooth as a lion's, swollen soft mouth, face falling into craziness, he's loose and ready to cackle, soft as shit he says, but not in his waking hours. Feeling up John Frick. Patiently talking to morose Nigel. ("I love him.") He and John are like teenage girls, taking their gossip seriously, learning from it.
When he climbs into bed he knows how to wait. We lie next to each other. He, or I, stroke a hip, a bit of elbow, stomach, leg. It's easy as sleeping, one-pointed it grows and we find our way. The later parts are harder, I'm perverse, he tries hard and that makes me shy and false. O Tony. I want to sleep. But then I realize - he's going to put it inside me, and I get excited. We're shy and careful with each other's sexes, delicate. No spit. Especially yesterday morning when I got in with him, clothes on, and we just stroked each other until I glowed. Don't know about him.
His clear clean two rooms. What I like about you is that you don't own a bathrobe.
Had a thought about dreams just now as I was lying down to bed in the dark - mind went to Harvey getting passport package from post office - myself thanking him better - it suddenly came to me how a dream is not much different from waking - that picture came at the end of some loose association I can't remember - during non-REM we're 'thinking' and it leads us up to a scene which however we can't remember the anchor for - my vision of thanking Harvey was a different possibility - in a dream I wonder if I'd recognize its antecedent - I'm a dream machine!
Also what's the structure of these instant fantasies? One shudder (motorcycle crash, Luke falling out the window), one glow (moment of glory), one little satisfaction (graciously thanking Harvey).
Lancaster Road Gospel meeting. The beautiful pastor with his precise pronunciation. Purple silk shirt. Little boys in the front row like Paul as a little boy, almost shaven head egg-shaped: the boy sax player who did Danny Boy cool and easy, meticulous. Women in clothes and hats that sit oddly on them, strangle and hobble them: a young girl in white shift and turban - the long-necked eldest daughter across the aisle, my near strangling tension - the look the woman gave me as if I had no right to clap and sing not having suffered enough. Curious mechanical Praise the Lord. Older women have a wail. The woman in large pink tweed who just stood there swaying her phrases first left then right over a racing - unaccompanied - beat, smiling slightly, small head over large body, singing in that strange wail that made me think of - something old and spacious like Gregorian chant. She was singing about the land of lib-er-ty. They all do. 'Choruses' led by a grinning big man flinging an accordion.
Precognition - Serios and Croisset.
'Serios experiment' implies we can kill each other with our thoughts - our "peculiar denial of complicity in each other's lives." Voodoo.
I don't think he foretells the future, I think he creates it.
Space and extension is just an irrelevant non-applicable parameter when it comes to the mind.
What would happen if we all withdrew our libido from the object world. "We all stay in a phase of consciousness, which is as it is with our consensual agreement."
Radar pictures of Venus - "What you can't look at at optical frequencies you can look at at microwave frequencies."
The calcium atoms in your bones were made in the interior of a red giant star.
Dreams in strange places (Roy's room) - a snowy white mountain place, night looking at stars, a big house nearby, somebody, a brother or lover or ? got into a sled that took off into the sky - I thought he was going to the stars - was complaining that I wanted to go as well, but he came back in a minute with baggage.
Other places: a large house in which I was disoriented, sometimes caught a glimpse down a long flight of stairs into a marbled foyer that must have been at the entrance. Another room which I thought I knew changed its furnishings and was, so I assumed, another room.
In catching back these dreams I'm not clear whether what I remember is one of the dreams or whether it's an in-dream association I had, ie in the dream above, I remember thinking this is like Mafalda's house, and now I can't remember whether it thereafter became Mafalda's house.
Something about being on the side of a river in Latin America, seeing tugs plant three small derricks, seeing these raise themselves - or raised - into pylon-like towering structures that I was told were oil derricks, a woman telling me she'd have to move upriver.
Child: try again.
"Do a job of philosophy."
If dreams were really all memories, past and present, not precise but approximate, personal, warped like fantasies - or memories of fantasies and inventions, also warped?
Zero is a name like Adam. Zero Konrad. Ishak Zero.
Monday noon, I'm in Notting Hill Gate, west-central London, staying with my sculptor friend the shaggy scruffy lean lion Tony who lends me his living room floor when I want to leave home - Luke's at Roy's going to the zoo and to birthday parties and having daddy sort of fun - he loves Roy so much it makes me jealous and afraid of losing him - that's a parenthesis to what I began I say, which is that I'm working on my FILM, going into the Silchester Road Public Baths - have I told you about this project? - in the mornings doing light tests and making notes, trying to be still and centred so I can look and listen as well as possibly possible. That's why I need to leave home as well, it makes me more alive. The film's going to be about light, color, space - it's going to be difficult technically and I'm going to leap out way beyond my depth - and that's only good. At last, at last.
Another parenthesis. Do you remember when you were here we had a discussion about money, the thing about Judy having had some money from Father which the rest of us 'should' get as well, I think $500. I said wait until I really need it - I think I might really need it for this film, which could, if it's as good as I can make it, unlock things like Canada Council grants for me (then I could move to BC). I don't want it to come from you - that's not fair - but if Father still thinks it's only right to give us all an equal dowry, as it twere, I'd be very glad to have it. I'll probably sell my car and other things but I'll need more money than that will fetch, even economical as I know how to be.
I'm excited, scared, but inside I'm very firm, this feels exactly the right time to take up my craft. I think I'm ready.
Has there been no letter for me from Queen's? If there is please forward it right away, it's about money.
Chestnut tree - the wind in the leaves raises the branches like a long slow inhalation; and they're like kites on twig-strings rising flat, sinking slowly like breath released inaudibly; sometimes they seem to be pushed down and then the compressed spring in the twigs pushes them up more quickly.
Each leaf must make wind for each other leaf.
The 'beech' - overlapping oval leaves, dark spots and light spots, an airy spongy something I feel I'm inside, like a gooseberry. Chromoplasts are that sort of overlapping oval?
The shadows are soft-edged, unfocused.
Winds go up and down the tree as well, seem to slide down the sides of the leaves and then hit the ground.
[notebook - not sure this goes here]
Who are these people - come together around jokes which are spectator events around personalities.
Fazal. Mediocrity and flabbiness except for occasional accuracy, his banalities about the economic system, self congradulatory savouring of conventional ideas. He speaks so slowly. [Fazal the Khanka's murshid or leader]
Need to give Luke warrior experiences
Borderline science fiction
Need to find out about cells
A family portrait of Elias, Christina, Hannah, think about it. High contrast black and white, try it out, lighting, detail.
There is one stage of sleep where the very relaxed musculature of deep sleep is combined with the alpha rhythm of an awake brain: REM and dreams.
The film is a thing, with skill conscious and unconscious it's a psychotronic generator.
A dream is an experience.
The interest is in the way they nearly meet at some borderline here.
Same mix of images and explanation, continuity and need to get clearer about the images, their qualities, the explanations should be secondary. In fact, I do remember certain images only, not necessarily still, perhaps a few frames, the rest is like remembered conjecture?
Film is a forced confrontation.
Eye and Brain
- When we look at something no internal picture is involved.
- The brain gropes toward organizing perception into objects - but every 'object' transcends present visual data.
- Perception is dynamic, a searching.
- Every perceived object is a hypothesis
- Speed of light 186,000 mps - one of the basic constants of the universe.
- Law of refraction
- Light - may be - packets of energy - quanta
- All so-called electromagnetic radiation is essentially the same - differ only in frequency - radio, infra, ultra, x - lowest to highest -
- Light is also split up by finely ruled lines, an LP or the pool!
- Blue light 1/70,000, red 1/40,000 of an inch
- Individual retinal receptors can pick up 1 quantum, but eye is not - loses 90% scattered in the eyeball
- With an opthalmoscope, the pupil no longer looks black, and the detailed structure of the living retina may be seen
- The blood vessels on its surface appearing as a great red tree of many branches
- The lens is made of layers, always developing on the outside while inside the cells die and harden
- From the muscles of the eye there's a continuous high-frequency tremour
- Retina - net, cobweb, tunic
- Photo receptors are not on front surface of the retina (embryological development of retina from the surface of the brain) but behind a web of blood vessels and network of nerve fibres, including three layers of cell bodies and a host of supporting cells
- Retina - a specialized part of the surface of the brain which has budded out and become sensitive to light, retains typical brain cells between the receptors and optic nerve which modify - process - electrical activity from the receptors - eye is thus an integral part of the brain
- Rods' night vision is grey only
- Primitive rod areas more sensitive - looking off the fovea to see faint stars
Carlos crossing his eyes
- Primitive area only good at detecting movements of shadows - edge of retina doesn't see, it just directs a reflex to look toward the movement
- Knowing somebody is looking at us
- Hawks see 4x as well in terms of acuity
- Photopigments of light are bleached by
Telephoned Roy in perturbation, at ll, ready, even decision to or not to, three hours later, the line got tired five times and we had to start again, said when I talked about why I 'hate' him, that I chose what to grieve about and that I chose to grieve about it, was lucid and snappy, made no evasions, said it all happened because he wanted to be free; hung on until I was wanting to sleep; then went and made up with Jud and then when I called this morning and Jud cheerfully went to fetch him, he came around and made love with me and Luke as gently and nicely as possible and tonight doubtless - and I'm happy and horny.
Showed Luke how it went, Luke said "Will you put it in me," so he did [bumped it up against him]. Luke giggled. "Does it tickle?" "Yaaas."
Meantime Luke played kangaroo onto my knees, stepping on our hair, dived between us, went off and put his alphabet together, came and said "Here's Ellie" with the red E. Roy stroked and tickled him; I kissed his cheek with a transferred intensity as he wriggled on his back between us. (Roy said "Do you want to take your clothes off too?" and he did, only his dungarees, knickers and socks.) Luke's like Carolee's cat but much more interesting. When he dived I had to gasp - very sensitive.
Noren film - a prick kissing a mouth, solarized hair - beautiful graphic quality of focus and out of focus, a blue fingernail disturbs the black and white harmony by pushing through and making it hair.
Water shuddering, lovely hard edge, but not looked at, made me feel commonplace.
That's exactly the difficulty of the film, it's trying to purify the language.
Fingers are like pricks as well.
Carolee's Fuses - she covers everything with scratch, paint, superimposition, the whole flickers, loves her self's shape, tenderness toward him pretty clear, not very erotic, it tumbles and rolls, that's their style, she likes her long legs - a blue passage where her eyes and his shine distant and cool - about the best thing - also a patch of window - leaf shadows quivering like fucking, very lovely, it grows from stillness, a flash of his profile as he drives a car.
Tube - black woman sitting on Angel platform bench, dark wine coat, white scarf, she's bulky and leans forward at a cantilevered angle toward her feet, small feet covered with new, shiny, wine-colored neat strap shoes, face in front of the white kerchief is brown about the saturation of the coat. Solid face cantilevers back into neck by a solid broad jaw, her skin has a dark shine - she's felt I'm looking at her and has turned away her face and brought her feet back. The way her broad bum juts back past the edge of the path.
The Angel, a junction lying on a slope, spokes opening uphill and downhill give it a sense of being tilted, or earth's curve.
The sex in me today is making me intelligent - is it that?
Reflection on side of cigarette machine - bent metal - King's Cross.
Points of convergence.
Spots, have a face in the centre of the convergences - grey lines, light lines, long necks running down on either side to the foreheads of other faces.
Chinese tea, the lines of light that are like shadows thrown by something invisible - are - the currents of temperature in the tea, plus the billowing shadows of steam rising.
Little still life, white bowl almost transparent hot tea, maybe a jasmine flower, pour it and watch it cool. Time it.
Jasmine tea, table, tripod, white bowl. Run it backwards maybe light from above, very clear - or hot water. Close up lens. Think about framing and background. then have it sucked up into the invisible spout very slowly - ie lit diversely to get same exposure. White spotlight almost to bleach the color. Perhaps background lighting breathes. Call it China Tea.
Perhaps interruptions for replays.
[more tech notes]
Let me catch this desolation, keep it from spreading, bend my mind simply to the film, lend myself to its necessities, be clear what it is.
Get thinner and sexier - energy - learn to collect, direct.
Dolphins in silver water, he and she streaking beside each other, made me want to cry, why do we have such a hunger for that and no way to find it.
Darkness of rainy afternoon, more monochromatic.
A film about a stone, close up, various light.
A film with a face like David's just staring close up at the camera, 200' mag maybe more. Eye, mouth, maybe talking, movement of head very slight, extreme close up most of the time.
Do it with other people to practice. Strong reflected sunlight. Eye so close you can see into it. Hypnotize.
That shaman - the hair - skin thin - then the light on the paper is like aura - needs color.
A film about fire. A piece of wood lighting itself from inside - currents and sparks - blow on it. A heat shield? Slow motion fire. Slow fire.
How can you see into a stone.
Have to learn to follow focus. a flare of light at edge.
Matin des magiciens
The middle world of the banalities we're socialized into, love, hate, chat etc, and then the big world where physics is inventing stars all within reach because space contracts.
Elements do transmute.
Maybe space contracts around a vehicle.
Psychology as a branch of physics.
Rosicrucians "represented a group of human beings who had reached a higher state than the mass of humanity, and thus possessed similar internal characteristics, which enabled them to recognize one another at all times."
Our longing to mutate, and to join a secret society of mutants.
"The real secret language, the language of technicians."
Wolfgang Pauli: "I envisage a method whose aim would be to reconcile contraries in a synthesis incorporating a rational understanding and a mystical experience of their unity. No other objective would be in harmony with the mythology, whether avowed or not, of our epoch."
Little film fixed on a reflecting surface in shade beside where cars pass in sun - color transformations - maybe slow motion. Also slow motion sound.
On Whitechapel High Street, a strange park, dry burnt grass, a few gravestones along the wall, bums scattered on the grass like dead flowers, alone, lying down in groups and pairs sitting arms hooked around their knees in dirty blues and greys - a field of bums - seen from above, bus pauses.
St James Park - green water has a marbley layer about a half inch below the reflecting surface - ducks when they swim leave two braided wakes floating wide behind them. A single duck feather sailing in the breeze leaves no furrow although it ploughs deep with its reflection.
The lime-green shadow under the swimming duck, he turns and it's gone.
Geese swimming toward me directly uplight from me push in front and to the side a brilliant wake of intense white light.
Each ripple is white on one side, blue on the other.
The willow - yellower green - establishes its shadow territory far across the lake, but if I moved I could shrink or extend it.
Where the water touches the concrete verge there are brilliant sparkles like shocks.
Geese are sailing policewomen, only appear and don't have to compete.
The birds all endlessly cruise for food.
On the bridge, a small girl, thin, can only see little boy's sandals (red), faded pink denims, a purple silk shawl and a head of fussy red hair blowing back - red like her shoes, pink, orange, brassy bits behind the ear, mostly red like somewhere between pink and oxblood, like no red I've seen - and when she turns, a face so classically beautiful, generous, curved, it could be a young Nefertiti - the nose, the mouth and chin, even the eyelid, all with the same round slow curve. People hesitate and giggle around her. I have stopped at the rail to be next to her. Her man looks a twit.
Water patterns under a tree, round squares knotted at the corners, a moiré articulated the flic, jerk in and out on the back of their wave - this is the glossy surface; just below the dirty marbled streaks only jiggle. What a tortoise shell, what a patch quilt, magic knots always moving hold the pattern downstream, and then -
It's Sunday and I'm at my Sufi farm with Luke. We came on Friday, on the train, a big journey with knapsack and pushchair (stroller). Friday - rushed out to see my barn, when I was last here they were nailing floorboards, now the tower is up, the skeleton of it - huge beams with braces. Saturday early Luke and I were up the ladders with the men, both in our overalls. He hammered and got in the way - I measured and sawed rafters. We were high in the sun on our sky raft, the leaves just turning red, the garden half ploughed, mist in the valley.
Everybody sparkles when Elias is there - he's the archetypal daddy of us all, somebody with such a swagger, such big hands, such a bright face and such an energy of invention and plans, that he's the unquestioned leader here. Somehow he makes sure that whatever we're doing, he knows a little more about it than anyone else. A mass of hair and beard, a real bright countenance, what a patriarch.
Last night he called ten of us to a private meeting and said that in the morning early - this morning - we could go into the woods each one alone, at a different point, and hunt each other. Whoever sighted someone would cry out "Hak!" and the person sighted would be dead and have to go home. And so, early, while it was cold and misty, long before the sun had cleared the trees, we entered the wet forest each at a different entrance - it's about 2x1 miles square - where there was a sunny meadow - danger - where paths crossed - danger - was it best to sit in ambush at a crossroads? I sat still on a stump and two deer came by, but no one of our eleven. Listening intently. The beech leaves making a racket on their way down. A strong rustle - I stopped still - ears prickling - heart hammering - is someone there? Waiting - are they waiting? - what if I move? Three deer leap out and run across the path. I go on. Beautiful tamarack with yellow needles brilliant in the mist, fine and soft as mist. The sun climbs. We have provisions in our pockets, peanuts and dates, but not too many because we hunt better if we're hungry.
Someone coming down the path, just rising over the hill. I throw myself flat in the ditch. Did they see me? Wait. Two women and a fat yellow dog. They look down and see this grown woman on her belly in a ditch. They pretend not to notice but she accosts them: "Did you see anyone else? Up there?" Is she mad? She looks old enough to be a mother. Why is she whispering?
I tiptoe on, but the forest's large and I see no one. I'm beginning to stride - listening - when HAK! - I flash around to see Malik's narrow Mongolian eyes staring out of the birch trees - I shriek, completely spontaneously, and fall over. My body has taken this game seriously.
I'm very cross not to have shot someone, so on the way home when I see Mica standing among the trees dressed in bracken I shoot him - the look of pain and surprise in his eyes! I rush back to tell him that I'm dead and so can't really shoot him. He can go on hunting. Meanwhile Elias has been shot three times and has refused to die, Miriam has shot Bill and then Miriam and Tara have shot each other. We come home one by one. Malik comes home because there's no one left to shot. Tomorrow there will be rumors of wild people in the Alice Holt Forest.
This is Part II of yesterday's letter from the Sufi farm. I think you'd like my Sufi family. I tell them how much you'd like them. You'd have liked yesterday's war game, and you'd have liked the night before: Dina's last night, and so she organized the evening's meditation (there's one every night). We gathered outside the house and walked into the woods. A clear black night, the moon on the far side of the earth next to the sun, stars and shooting stars, the tight little bunches of the Pleiades and the Plough (Big Dipper) nearly on the horizon. A different sky from yours. Walked fast, far into the woods. Somebody knew the paths, scuffing in leaves. Malik began to sing Praise the lord, praise the lord, for he is gracious and his mercy endureth for ever and ever. I didn't know the tune. It was a round, with harmonies like High Mass - we sang it for a long time. Miles later Elias and Malik who were tramping at the head of what had become a procession in starlight between high tamaracks and dense beechwoods began the strange complicated lovely Kyrie from a Gregorian chant - did they remember it from altar boy childhoods? We didn't get home until after midnight, ending at the fringe of the wood by - spontaneously - snowballing ourselves into a tight hugging mass cheek to cheek and shin to shin, shoving, struggling for balance, just managing to keep ourselves upright while gathering up people outside - left me panting and electrified in all the contact spots.
That place is so good to me, so serious (sometimes ludicrous) and so frugal that it softens me into a child again; whenever I go the lines fade from under my eyes and I cry easily about old griefs and grievances.
They want me to come for a year.
Now! Just when I can't because I have to chase my fate through some films.
I liked what you said about why you love black princes, the illusion of what he could be if I could impart some of my strength to his inner being, and of what I could be if I had some of his magnificent, private independence. - Your painful joy, you're like Sylvia Ashton-Warner. The problem is - you do impart strength to them, by being willing to love them unilaterally you increase their sense of power - and of guilt. Because they know that being loved isn't good enough. My struggle when I find myself obsessed with a black prince like that lovely but cold Canadian filmmaker at the Festival - is with enjoying my impulses to generosity and all the energy that it gives me - and yet feeling that I have to choose between showing my feelings and alienating [the guy] - or hiding them, and having some contact with him. Because men are easily beguiled, especially by an indifference which allows them to be generous. I know the ways of playing this game, but not how to win it. Painful joys either way.
An underground filmmaker is really just an experimental filmmaker, ie somebody with no money or means who, no matter how good, will never be rich or mentioned in Time magazine because s(he)'s making films on the frontiers of the art.
Luke and the cats asleep, Mozart and the coal fire, now it's time to work.
Ruesch: "Such acts as walking and drinking for example have a dual function they constitute statements to those who may perceive them."
Cultural criticism - Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse, Williams, McLuhan, Riesman, Innes
Jakobson "continuous multichannel process." A few channels dominate - notice which channels work in films.
Landscape of my toilet wall.
Collage film of floor turning into raft.
How heavy and literal I still am, how I want to fly. How amateur and beginner I am. How closed. Yet. Fiction that everything can begin in a minute.
that as our sensitivity increases and our consciousness becomes wider and deeper, our connections with the cosmos become more firmly established, more deeply set also.
The mythology of evolution
I want to get quicker and stiller and livelier, thinner and finer like fire.
Seems to be: wanting needs managing, thinking out exactly what's needed next. What's right.
Not only does everything catch its relevant messages, it also emits identifying signals.
Distinctions between - signals, signs, symbols.
Question of valuing the receptive, passive.
We collude with men when we fight them in ourselves.
Maslow high and low autonomy.
Healthy people are more spontaneous and more expressive, they emit behaviour more easily, more totally, more honestly.
Eskimo word for poetry is to breathe.
Beauties of exactness, clarity, detail.
My theory of clumping knowledge
Doctrine of signatures
Grossinger - "the signature is the moment of perception"
Poetry "that process which in fact does record the act of sequential perception, the dynamics of thought and growth and personal chemistry (even as thought is happening and hanging, even as the cells are unsteady)."
Sound of kettle coming up to a boil.
Going through notebooks, not being able to find Arnold's address, disgusted with the proliferation (that's the language talking) of beginnings of projects; naivetes. My preoccupations are all recorded in their ephemerality. Mistrusting and envying Grossinger, thinned out by nervousness. Always think I'm just beginning to be on the right track, go in circles.
There's something wrong with these solitary reading days that makes me ravenous, then heavy, tired, ugly, substanceless. Maybe it's loneliness and lovelessness, or sexlessness. Or just having no contact with anyone.
Luke when he woke this morning found the orange I'd cut into moons for him, said, crowed "Did you put this orange here? Fank you!" Came and lay beside me warming under the edge of my sleeping bag, long thin-seeming body. Now he's asleep on the rug, half out of the sleeping bag, the two cats sleeping at his feet on the blue nylon.
Aren't I always satisfied with beginnings. What's next. Thoughts of
Periodic table of elements - like a circle of fifths or a color wheel? Does the element modulate?
Watch children's postures and do it.
Man at healing session saying "Are you an actress?" Expressions and gestures studied - "glow in your eyes."
Piran saying "If I unfolded myself you'd be afraid of me." Sap rising, fright rising, a sparkle to measure me by. He says "You're a mysterious poem but I understand you right away." I tell him he likes to sit at the top of the table. His eyes close when he pries mine open so mine close too but behind our shuttered eyes energy piles up.
--- and the girl with glasses, leaning together over the meal, she and Amina full of sex shine in the dull circle. Isha is quiet and nice with her. He attracts me - his eyes shine, his beautiful hands rest beautifully on his knees, his body's dark and square.
[notes on Baillie's Quick Billy]
[notes on Beaulieu's and Arri's]
Variables in Baths film
DNA - "There is not one person, indeed not one living being, that has not returned from death."
Subconscious memory, wherein are stored the records not only of our past lives but the records of the past of our race, the past of humanity, and of all pre-human forms of life, if not of the very consciousness that makes life possible in this universe.
Vedic sages Eleusinian initiates Tantrics it is possible to tune in on neurological processes which flash by at the speed of light, and to become aware of the enormous treasuring of ancient racial memory welded into the nucleus of every cell in your body.
Does that mean anything you learn after you've reproduced is wasted.
[notes on the Tibetan Book of the Dead]
Saints as sensory experts.
The world of saints (devas) is said to shine with a white light and to be preceded by visions of delightful temples and jeweled mansions heroes (assuras) has a green light and is signaled by magical forests and fire images. The ordinary human world yellow light. Animal existence is foreshadowed by a blue light and images of caves and deep holes in the earth. The world of neurotics or unsatisfied spirits has a red light and visions of desolate planes and forest wastes. The hell world emits a smoke-coloured light and is preceded by sounds of wailing, visions of gloomy lands, black and white houses and black roads along which you have to travel.
[dosages and durations for LSD, mescaline, psilocybin]
Have three days, one for preparation, one for follow-up.
Away from game environment, choose best time of day.
[plan for building a bed for Luke]
Slade session - Kari's second session - her voice gets a fanatical urgency in it - her nerves edging - like a sermon.
The black church at Stratford - I tried the gate, changed my mind, walked on. A young black man leaned over in a car smiling mouth full of random gold teeth to say I should come back to the service in the evening.
At the Sufi meeting [in the East End] finding myself crying - sitting on the rug, the tall candlestick and pot of chrysanthemums on a tray, the baby left to touch instruments, sing, nibble at his mother's long red nipple, with care and ceremony of all the careful people around: like Luke never had?
Read a long bit from Inyat Khan about women being beautiful and cherished and tyrannized - about the first man to impregnate them leaving an indelible mark on subsequent children - made me open and weep from my old gash, also made me weep because it was so confused and blind after all, women must be protected by men, because they are guardians of beauty; men, being made of harsher stuff, can deal with the world. Makes me ache. What he said about Western women being able to compete but on unequal, disguised unequal, terms.
Isha? looking radiant and smiling to see me as he didn't at the Khankha - my impulse to take him by the shoulders and press my damp cheek against his beard - then when I asked him if they'd had an expert in to lay bricks, he said, "Man, there hasn't been an expert there since you were there!" I was so flattered - blushed and bridled.
Piran's girl buttoning her overalls to read her scripture, closed the book and recited it slow and carefully, lovely mobile mouth.
Story about somebody in the next house, child away, voice on the telephone - not even that - what happens in that room alone.
Strong shapes - Tagore poem.
Altars. The black tabernacle. How she furnishes it. How she eats. Mysteries held. Weeping.
Music - drums next door - sculptor's debris, the boarded-up downstairs.
Buys clothes and becomes someone else. Long bus trips.
Gisell on Tells Sex test: "There is a slight sex difference in favor of the boys on this test, the girls being a little more likely to reply 'I'm a boy.'"
Gk kamera - anything with arched cover. Camera is little room.
My film that queer abstraction. I talk about it as if it existed, but conscious of trying to manage myself into states that will optimize it. Got to go in with the camera again and again. Terror of getting paralyzed, never making it, yet feeling the process has begun, I will make it. But will it be mediocre? It makes all my limits important because they'll all be there. A helplessness. I know what it means to need to transcend myself. It just resists me in its non-existence. Little ideas come, but only when I partly get into it, and I only do get partly into it. My technical limitations just stop my imagination - have somebody else shoot what I can't. How to get into it. Think about it, that was one old way.
The water box, the cubicle boxes, a blueness - concentrate on them, other bits still and moving. [sketches]
Leads - physics - water and air - prisms - optics - sections - blue.
Be nice if I could go all around once like a spiral back where you began but further back or closer in.
[sketch of a tree with a London terrace behind it, crescent moon] When are there no cars? But that light? Push it? Why not b/w? Tinted blue.
Tony leaving here the other morning, intent little face over that long black coat, hair in a fine dry brush like doll's hair, turning to look back over his moustache.
Walking the bike home from Holmes Road tonight, blue night sky filling the windows of rooms over the shops on Kentish Town Road. At the parking lot I rode in circles around the chestnut tree, making a film, crescent moon I pushed behind a row of chimneys, a star I made swoop over the roofs, the stash of half-carved blocks of stone in the yard, a few cars almost obliterated by the nightfall blue light and its reflections on them, the steep rise of the school buildings on one side, lights on in some of them, a white wall very intense like whitewash in blueing. The intricate fine hooks of the bald chestnut tree spinning through it all, a fine moment, when I'd come out of the spin and shot out the gate I thought, that was a really happy moment, but at the same time it was just an alertness. Wide-angle lens? Strap the camera alongside my head and make it accidentally? Learn to ride without hands? It was a reel unwinding.
15 minutes until I have to leave for a semiotics class - here's a letter from June, did I really not answer it? Your dream that Roy came with Luke and another baby that wasn't mine - (was that baby yours maybe?) - no, Roy isn't expecting another child (to my knowledge) - now I remember, I did answer that letter.
I have another old friend in London now - you remember Peter Harcourt with whom I came to England. He's on a Canada-Council-paid year in London to study and improve himself. We've buried the hatchet and are really old friends now - know each other too well for romance or idealization - he's so bright and full of struggles it's nice that he still likes me and sort of believes in me, because he believes in the rebellion in me as my other teachers do not - limited souls that they are.
And a new friend from Dublin - Joe Comerford - who's in London getting his last film printed - last night I saw some of his earlier films and the one was so brilliant, so authoritative, so intelligent and tactful, so ---- that I've realized I've got a friend with talent! He's a rather sober and determined, neatly-made man, 26, with a good Donegal accent (West of Ireland) and an army officer's face, who is solid in his judgments but supple and fine in his perceptions - his feelings I can't guess at - and who's good company for looking - the kind of company that's rarest and dearest because real looking is the best thinking and feeling - so I believe.
Later in the day, in bed (sleeping bag) with a hot water bottle at my feet, the radio next to my knee, BBC Radio 3, somebody's beautiful mass, Luke asleep in his sleeping bag, one hand stretched out to his teddy bear's neck, his Rabbit, Cat and Oxfam (dog) piled next to him, fifteen tiny cars ranged on the other side, next to me, like this [sketch]. Sweet sleeping face, not washed before bed, hair on end, dark eyelashes on pink cheeks. Your English grandbaby: what a shock you'll get at his accent. You know he calls underpants knickers, trucks lorries, highways motorways, overalls dungarees, boots wellingtons, pullovers jersies, gas petrol, etc?
Fiddling with the radio, among the crackle that suggests thousands of miles, I've found a bit of music that's flooded me back fourteen years, half my life, into the Mercury at night when I used to sit alone in the dark, a green light from the dashboard, hovering over North America calling in Vancouver, Seattle, sometimes as far south as Texas, listening to the same song on all the stations, participating in the myth of teenage, yearning for some/body, full of love, staring at myself in the rearview mirror and daydreaming about a ducktailed highschool boy in white buck shoes, with a little curl on his forehead and as much magic in his head as I had in mine, whom I would meet, mysteriously, somehow - I guess at the same moment in Johannesburg Roy was exactly that kind of highschool boy, flirtatious and religious, athletic, romantic, how I'd have fallen! Time to grow up. Sail along silvery moon, Billy Vaughn and his orchestra.
I'm anxious for news of Judy.
Got a picture of Mafalda in the post, looking beautiful, with a long-legged black-eyed child on the back of her bicycle wearing Mafalda's look of poised aristocracy. The picture's up with beautiful Tova and a map of BC that shows miles of wrinkles, the shadowed wrinkles that mean mountain, some with ice on them - empty space. Sometime. I have a picture up of a homestead, house, barn, shed, a copse of trees, red dawn light in a clear sky and a dugout with edges trampled into mud. Geography.